Privacy Policy

NOTICE OF PRIVACY PRACTICES

Your health record contains personal information about you and your health.  This information about you that may identify you and that relates to your past, present or future physical or mental health or condition and related health care services is referred to as Protected Health Information (“PHI”).  This Notice of Privacy Practices describes how we may use and disclose your PHI in accordance with applicable law, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (“HIPAA”), regulations promulgated under HIPAA including the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules.  It also describes your rights regarding how you may gain access to and control your PHI.

I am required by law to maintain the privacy of PHI and to provide you with notice of our legal duties and privacy practices with respect to PHI.  I am required to abide by the terms of this Notice of Privacy Practices.  I reserve the right to change the terms of our Notice of Privacy Practices at any time.  Any new Notice of Privacy Practices will be effective for all PHI that I maintain at that time.  I will provide you with a copy of the revised Notice of Privacy Practices by posting a copy on our website, sending a copy to you in the mail upon request or providing one to you at your next appointment.

  1. MY PLEDGE REGARDING HEALTH INFORMATION:

I understand that health information about you and your health care is personal. I am committed to protecting health information about you. I create a record of the care and services you receive from me. I need this record to provide you with quality care and to comply with certain legal requirements. This notice applies to all of the records of your care generated by this mental health care practice. This notice will tell you about the ways in which I may use and disclose health information about you. I also describe your rights to the health information I keep about you, and describe certain obligations I have regarding the use and disclosure of your health information. I am required by law to:

  • Make sure that PHI that identifies you is kept private.
  • Give you this notice of my legal duties and privacy practices with respect to health information.
  • Follow the terms of the notice that is currently in effect.
  • I can change the terms of this Notice, and such changes will apply to all information I have about you. The new Notice will be available upon request, in my office, and on my website.
  1. HOW I MAY USE AND DISCLOSE HEALTH INFORMATION ABOUT YOU:

The following categories describe different ways that I use and disclose health information. For each category of uses or disclosures I will explain what I mean and try to give some examples. Not every use or disclosure in a category will be listed. However, all of the ways I am permitted to use and disclose information will fall within one of the categories.

For Treatment Payment, or Health Care Operations: Federal privacy rules (regulations) allow health care providers who have direct treatment relationship with the patient/client to use or disclose the patient/client’s personal health information without the patient’s written authorization, to carry out the health care provider’s own treatment, payment or health care operations. I may also disclose your protected health information for the treatment activities of any health care provider. This too can be done without your written authorization. For example, if a clinician were to consult with another licensed health care provider about your condition, we would be permitted to use and disclose your person health information, which is otherwise confidential, in order to assist the clinician in diagnosis and treatment of your mental health condition.

Disclosures for treatment purposes are not limited to the minimum necessary standard. Because therapists and other health care providers need access to the full record and/or full and complete information in order to provide quality care. The word “treatment” includes, among other things, the coordination and management of health care providers with a third party, consultations between health care providers and referrals of a patient for health care from one health care provider to another.

Lawsuits and Disputes: If you are involved in a lawsuit, I may disclose health information in response to a court or administrative order. I may also disclose health information about your child in response to a subpoena, discovery request, or other lawful process by someone else involved in the dispute, but only if efforts have been made to tell you about the request or to obtain an order protecting the information requested.

For Payment: I may use and disclose PHI without authorization so that we can receive payment for treatment services provided to you.  Examples of payment-related activities are: making a determination of eligibility or coverage for insurance benefits, processing claims with your insurance company, reviewing services provided to you to determine medical necessity, or undertaking utilization review activities.  If it becomes necessary to use collection processes due to lack of payment for services, I will only disclose the minimum amount of PHI for purposes or collection.

For Health Care Operations: I may use or disclose without authorization, as needed, your PHI in order to support our business activities including, but not limited to, quality assessment activities, employee review activities, licensing, and conducting or arranging for other business activities.  For example, I may share your PHI with third parties that perform various business activities (e.g., billing or typing services) provided I have a written contract with the business that requires it to safeguard the privacy of your PHI.

Required by Law: Under the law, I must disclose your PHI to you upon your request.  In addition, I must make disclosures to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services for the purpose of investigating or determining our compliance with the requirements of the Privacy Rule.

  • CERTAIN USES AND DISCLOSURES REQUIRE YOUR AUTHORIZATION:
  • Psychotherapy Notes. I do keep “psychotherapy notes” as that term is defined in 45 CFR § 164.501, and any use or disclosure of such notes requires your Authorization unless the use or disclosure is:
    1. For my use in treating you.
    2. For my use in training or supervising mental health practitioners to help them improve their skills in group, joint, family, or individual counseling or therapy.
    3. For my use in defending myself in legal proceedings instituted by you.
    4. For use by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to investigate my compliance with HIPAA.
    5. Required by law and the use or disclosure is limited to the requirements of such law.
    6. Required by law for certain health oversight activities pertaining to the originator of the psychotherapy notes.
    7. Required by a coroner who is performing duties authorized by law.
    8. Required to help avert a serious threat to the health and safety of others.
  • Marketing Purposes. As a psychotherapist, I will not use or disclose your PHI for marketing purposes.
  • Sale of PHI. As a psychotherapist, I will not sell your PHI in the regular course of my business.
  1. CERTAIN USES AND DISCLOSURES DO NOT REQUIRE YOUR AUTHORIZATION.

Subject to certain limitations in the law, I can use and disclose your PHI without your Authorization for the following reasons:

  • When disclosure is required by state or federal law, and the use or disclosure complies with and is limited to the relevant requirements of such law.
  • For public health activities, including reporting suspected child, elder, or dependent adult abuse, or preventing or reducing a serious threat to anyone’s health or safety.
  • For health oversight activities, including audits and investigations.
  • For judicial and administrative proceedings, including responding to a court or administrative order, although my preference is to obtain an Authorization from you before doing so.
  • For law enforcement purposes, including reporting crimes occurring on my premises.
  • To coroners or medical examiners, when such individuals are performing duties authorized by law.
  • For research purposes, including studying and comparing the mental health of patients who received one form of therapy versus those who received another form of therapy for the same condition.
  • Specialized government functions, including, ensuring the proper execution of military missions; protecting the President of the United States; conducting intelligence or counter-intelligence operations; or, helping to ensure the safety of those working within or housed in correctional institutions.
  • For workers’ compensation purposes. Although my preference is to obtain an Authorization from you, I may provide your PHI in order to comply with workers’ compensation laws.
  • Appointment reminders and health related benefits or services. I may use and disclose your PHI to contact you to remind you that you have an appointment with me. I may also use and disclose your PHI to tell you about treatment alternatives, or other health care services or benefits that I offer.
  1. CERTAIN USES AND DISCLOSURES REQUIRE YOU TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO OBJECT.
  • Disclosures to family, friends, or others. I may provide your PHI to a family member, friend, or other person that you indicate is involved in your care or the payment for your health care, unless you object in whole or in part. The opportunity to consent may be obtained retroactively in emergency situations.
  1. YOUR RIGHTS REGARDING YOUR PHI.

You have the following rights regarding PHI I maintain about you.  To exercise any of these rights, please submit your request in writing to our Privacy Officer at stephanie@hopeandgrowthcenter.com.

Right of Access to Inspect and Copy.  You have the right, which may be restricted only in exceptional circumstances, to inspect and copy PHI that is maintained in a “designated record set”. A designated record set contains mental health/medical and billing records and any other records that are used to make decisions about your care.  Your right to inspect and copy PHI will be restricted only in those situations where there is compelling evidence that access would cause serious harm to you or if the information is contained in separately maintained psychotherapy notes.  I may charge a reasonable, cost-based fee for copies.  If your records are maintained electronically, you may also request an electronic copy of your PHI.  You may also request that a copy of your PHI be provided to another person.

Right to Amend.  If you feel that the PHI I have about you is incorrect or incomplete, you may ask me to amend the information, although I am not required to agree to the amendment.  If I deny your request for amendment, you have the right to file a statement of disagreement with me.  I may prepare a rebuttal to your statement and will provide you with a copy.  Please contact the Privacy Officer if you have any questions.

Right to an Accounting of Disclosures.  You have the right to request an accounting of certain of the disclosures that I make of your PHI.  I may charge you a reasonable fee if you request more than one accounting in any 12-month period.

Right to Request Restrictions.  You have the right to request a restriction or limitation on the use or disclosure of your PHI for treatment, payment, or health care operations.  I am not required to agree to your request unless the request is to restrict disclosure of PHI to a health plan for purposes of carrying out payment or health care operations, and the PHI pertains to a health care item or service that you paid for our of pocket.  In that case, I am required to honor your request for a restriction.

Right to Request Confidential Communication.  You have the right to request that I communicate with you about health matters in a certain way or at a certain location.  I will accommodate reasonable requests.  I may require information regarding how payment will be handled or specification of an alternative address or other method of contact as a condition for accommodating your request.  I will not ask you for an explanation of why you are making the request.

Breach Notification.  If there is a breach of unsecured PHI concerning you, I may be required to notify you of this breach, including what happened and what you can do to protect yourself.

Right to a Copy of this Notice.  You have the right to a copy of this notice.

COMPLAINTS

If you believe I have violated your privacy rights, you have the right to file a complaint in writing with our Privacy Officer at stephanie@hopeandgrowthcenter.com or with the Secretary of Health and Human Services at 200 Independence Avenue, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20201 or by calling (202) 619-0257.  I will not retaliate against you for filing a complaint.

EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS NOTICE

This notice went into effect on November 12, 2019.

Acknowledgement of Receipt of Privacy Notice

Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), you have certain rights regarding the use and disclosure of your protected health information. By checking the box below, you are acknowledging that you have received a copy of HIPPA Notice of Privacy Practices.

 

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